Where is Looksmart?

Elizabeth Felt felt at mail.wsu.edu
Fri Nov 1 13:09:25 EST 1996

On Thu, 31 Oct 1996, ROCK THE VOTE IN NOVEMBER 1996 wrote:

> Also, I would like to pose a question concerning Metacrawler.  I notice
> that when I do a search and it shows me the retrieval from the various
> engines, it differs vastly from my searches on any one specific engine.
> For example:  say I search "johnny bench".  It tells me (again hypothetically)
> Webcrawler: 9, Altavista: 11, whatever: 0 etc.)  but if I go to Altavista
> and perform a very sgood search, I get, say, 41 for "johnny bench".  Sure,
> maybe all are not so relevant as I'd like, but nonetheless, it is more than
> the 11 reported on Metacrawler for aLTAVISTA.  Comments?

In Altavista, you can get different results from the same search performed
as a Simple Query or as an Advanced Query.  This is because Altavista
turns Simple Queries into Advanced Queries, giving them boolean operators
and assigning words rank.  It will probably not choose the same strategy
that you would choose doing an Advanced Query, thus giving you different
results. (For a better explanation, click on HELP at the Altavista
Advanced Query screen.)

There are probably similar differences with the other search engines used
by Metacrawler.  In addition, Metacrawler lets you request search
strategies not available from all of the search engines it will try the
search on:  Metacrawler allows you to request words be treated as a
phrase, yet Lycos does not accept adjacency or proximity operators.  I'm
not sure how well it translates truncation, adjacency, etc. to the various
mechanisms used by each engine.

Personally, I think the best strategy for searching the web is to become
familiar with the more complex search strategies available at a couple of
the better search engines.  Doing smart searches is usually more
productive than trying lots of engines with an uncontrollable search


Elizabeth Caulfield Felt
Reference Librarian
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington 99164-5610
felt at wsu.edu

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